The H2 chip in second-generation AirPods Pro brings Adaptive Transparency, a new mode that amplifies voices and dampens loud sounds.
Apples AirPods Pro has been known for its excellent active noise-cancelling features since its debut in 2019, and the second-gen AirPods Pro are no different – but what’s the earbuds’ new Adaptive Transparency Mode? Although the first-generation AirPods Pro won over music listeners and fit well into the Apple ecosystem, a lot has changed in the years since its release. The rest of the audio industry has caught up, and competing truly wireless earbuds match or surpass the feature set of the original AirPods Pro. This led the company to develop a second generation model containing an improved adaptive transparency mode.
The most eye-catching feature of the second-gen AirPods Pro wasn’t improvements in sound quality or active noise cancellation, but rather a new charging case. The latest AirPods charging case looks familiar to the original but has some quality of life changes. It features a lanyard loop so the case can be safely stored in a pocket or attached to a bag. There’s a speaker on the outside to help find the charging case if it’s lost, and the case essentially functions as an AirTag. It can be charged with a Qi-certified wireless charger, MagSafe charger, or Apple Watch charging puck. But beyond the redesign of the charging case, a new chip facilitates the Adaptive Transparency mode.
The H1 chip powered the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes in the first-generation AirPods Pro. It is an Apple-designed silicon that processes audio data and handles fast connections with Apple devices. However, the second-generation AirPods Pro feature an upgraded H2 chip paired with a separate U1 chip. The latter of the two processors, the U1 chip, enabled ultra-wideband support for precision research. More importantly, the H2 chip adds additional compute audio features, including an adaptive transparency mode.
How Adaptive Transparency Mode works on AirPods Pro 2
A normal transparency mode on truly wireless headphones uses both interior and exterior microphones to amplify exterior noise. This can be important if users want to listen to music while hearing the sounds of their surroundings. For example, users may need to hear voices, traffic, or other sounds while listening to music. The problem with normal transparency mode is that it can amplify already loud sounds, causing painfully loud sounds in the wearer’s ear. Adaptive Transparency mode uses on-device processing on second-generation AirPods Pro to reduce ambient noise.
Now, the second-generation AirPods Pro can analyze ambient noise and determine which noises need to be amplified in the wearer’s ear. Sounds like voices and passing cars can be heard with Adaptive Transparency mode, but louder noises are suppressed. Loud music at a concert, construction tools, or the siren of an emergency vehicle are a few types of loud sounds that can be reduced with Adaptive Transparency mode. This could be a game-changer for people who often work in noisy environments, leading to hearing loss. Previously, people could block out loud sounds with active noise cancellation or traditional earplugs, but they lost out on other important sounds. With Adaptive Transparency Mode, users can safely listen to music and hear important sounds while blocking loud sounds.
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